How Australia lost the plot on education

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  • Published 20220127
  • ISBN: 978-1-92221-65-8
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

TOWARDS THE END of Educated, her harrowing memoir of an Idaho childhood with Mormon survivalist parents, Tara Westover concludes: ‘Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind.’ For Westover, ‘An education is not so much about making a living as making a person.’

Others have acknowledged the life-changing value of a great education. In his biography of the fifteenth-century polymath Leonardo da Vinci, Walter Isaacson describes da Vinci’s ongoing project of self-expansion through his relentless curiosity. Among the subjects of his inquisitiveness – jotted down in his many to-do lists – da Vinci planned to calculate the measurement of Milan and suburbs, read a book about Milanese churches, get a master of arithmetic to show him how to square a triangle, ask a Benedictine friar to show him a key text on mechanics, discover how people walk on ice in Flanders, understand how a crossbow worked, draw Milan, learn how to repair a canal lock, and describe the tongue of a woodpecker. Da Vinci relished knowledge for its own sake, drawing insights from arts and sciences alike. He defines the term ‘Renaissance man’. Like Westover, da Vinci constructed himself through education. The education he designed for himself continues to serve as an inspiration for teachers and learners alike.

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